Saturday, 9 April 2005

A Bill with Property Rights?

Can anyone tell anyone else three things that United Future are good for (answers on a postcard please to Dr M. Cullen c/- Parliament, Helengrad). To quote our fearless leader, they’ve been about as much use as tits on a bull, haven’t they? Except of course as a doormat for our fearless leader.

However, I may need to review my opinion of them, or at least of Gordon Copeland.

Just drawn from the parliamentary ballot is Copeland’s private member’s bill proposing that property rights be put into the Bill of Rights where it belongs, and should have been long ago. He argues “the rights to own private property dated back to the Magna Carta in 1215, and extended through New Zealand's common law tradition,” and of course, he’s right, they did, until those rights were buried under the Resource Management Act. I’ve argued elsewhere that the act is a disaster, and that the only solution is a stake through its heart.

Anyway, the RMA’s burial of property rights would not have been possible with a Bill of Rights that 1) had real teeth, and 2) included property rights amongst those protected. Copeland can’t do much about the former, but he is trying on the latter and I applaud him. (FYI, here's how a real Bill of Rights might look. And here, a Bill of No Rights.)

Kudos too for Stephen Franks, who supports the measure saying "some historians and scholars make a strong case for property rights being more essential than democracy to establishing freedom and more valuable in preserving it." They certainly do. Here’s one of them here. Buy his book - if you want your property rights protected, it's essential intellectual self-defence.

[Edited: Links fixed, 2:20pm, Sat 9 April]


  1. And while we are talking about the Magna Carta, I thought it had some protection in there to stop a horse and cart from being taken.

    So how can the current government justify "reposession" of the parents car if their son is caught speeding in it?

    If its *any* car a young person is caught speeding in, then would it be more socially acceptable for them to borrow and joy ride in Helen Clark's car, knowing
    (a) it's immune to speeding tickets
    (b) they can claim they were doing their homework in the back seat and a police driver has escaped on foot
    (c) if it is reposessed, then its only going to piss of Helen Clark, or possibly her hubby, Master Clark.

  2. I was floored when I clicked on the link and saw "The Noblest Triumph" come up! It is indeed a great book. I read it when it came out (new issue shelf of a US library) and subsequently purchased a copy. Never thought I'd see a reference to it in NZ though. Will be putting this blog on my "regular read" list - thanks.


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.